Kyrie Irving said he turned down a multiyear deal worth "$100-and-something-million" with the Brooklyn Nets because he did not want to take the coronavirus vaccine.
Irving insinuated that the Nets gave him an ultimatum regarding his vaccination status on the deal getting done, and that he figured the deal would be completed by the start of training camp last year.
The then-city-mandated vaccine kept Irving from playing home games, and the seven-time All-Star ended up playing only 29 games last season.
"I gave up four years, 100-and-something million deciding to be unvaccinated and that was the decision," Irving said. "(Get this) contract, get vaccinated or be unvaccinated and there's a level of uncertainty of your future, whether you're going to be in this league, whether you're going to be on this team. So I had to deal with that real-life circumstance of losing my job for this decision."
"I didn't appreciate how me being unvaccinated came to be a stigma within my career that I don't want to play, or that I'm willing to give up everything to be a voice for the voiceless."
Nets general manager Sean Marks disagreed with how Irving categorized his contract negotiations with the team.
"There's no ultimatum being given here," Marks said. "Again, it goes back to you want people who are reliable, people who are here, and accountable. All of us: staff, players, coaches, you name it. It's not giving somebody an ultimatum to get a vaccine. That's a completely personal choice. I stand by Kyrie. I think if he wants, he's made that choice. That's his prerogative completely."
The 30-year-old Irving will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and is making $36 million in the last year of his current deal.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nets' Kyrie Irving says vaccination status cost him $100 million deal